Thursday, July 31, 2008

Don't Be Afraid of Customer Reviews

........... unless you have something to be afraid of.

A customer review system is the single most important way to improve any business. We love to know when we have fulfilled an order in such a way that the customer wants to tell the world. Be it good or bad. We have two separate independent review portals that give us a good barometer of what kind of shopping experience our customers had. On one, our satisfaction rating is 4.6 out of 5 ,and the other it is 4.8 out of 5. I will not be happy until they are both 5 out of 5.

I do not have time to respond to each and every one of them, but I do respond to negative feedback. Not to make excuses, but to make the customer believe we appreciate the feedback and to promise we will do better. We have kept those promises. Since our last negative feedback we have raised those scores from 4.3 out 5 and 4.5 out of 5 respectively. I am proud of my crew that is in charge of maintaining our customer relations. They are Monica Cunningham, LeAnda Seay, Shirin Rana, and Tammy Anderson.

Improving those scores was not just a simple matter of delivering the order on time. It involves staying in touch with the customer all thru the order process. Let them know if there will be any delays, what day to expect the delivery, and make them aware of what to expect and what to do in case there is a problem. One customer gave us a 4 out of 5 for one simple correctable reason. She got the order a day early than she anticipated, she saved a lot of money, the product was beautiful in her home, so what was the reason? We failed to notify her that the order was shipped and it caught her not prepared to receive the order. We acknowledged our shortcomings and promised to do better. She has since placed another order and this time we received a 5 out of 5 from her.

We are not a perfect company. Our team is made up of human beings, computers, and third party vendors and transportation companies. We do our best to keep orders from falling thru the cracks. But when one does, we try to identify the crack and seal it.

Sometimes it hurts the bottom line to do what is right. but as a service company, if we or any other company are not prepared or willing to service a customer's needs, there will soon not be any customers to service.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quick-Step Laminate Rebates

I almost forgot to post info on the Quick Step Laminate Flooring promotion going on July 1st thru September 30. Consumers get from $100 - $150 via mail in rebate directly from Quick Step depending on the floor you choose. A purchase of Quick Step Elegance, Quick Step Eligna, Quick Step Classic Elite, or Quick Step Classic will get you $100 from Quick-Step. A purchase of Quick Step Arte, Quick Step Perspective, Quick Step Linesse or Quick Step Quadra will get you $150. Certain restrictions apply and a minimum purchase 0f 300 sq ft is required.

A great promotion for a great laminate floor.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Laminate Flooring. Is one brand better?

At ACWG, we offer laminate flooring from all the most recognizable names. Quick Step Laminate Floors, Pergo Laminate Floors, Mohawk Laminate Floors, Shaw Laminate Floors, and Mannington Laminate Floors are our best sellers and most widely known. But recently we have seen strong sales of Berry Floor Laminate, Alloc Laminate Floors, and Tarkett Laminate Floors with their new product line.

For me to make a determination as to which brand is better or identify a single product that is better will take quite a bit of thought. The obvious answer I would want to give as a retailer would be the brand that I sell the most of, which is Quick Step Laminate. But our sales are strong for Berry Floor, Mohawk Laminate Floors, and Alloc Laminates in that order. I am sure that our sales for Shaw Laminates would be as strong as the others, but we are not allowed to show our best price on our site.

Depending on what you're looking for in a new floor also determines which is better. For the realistic look of a real wood floor, I think that Quick Step, Berry Floor, and Tarkett have that market cornered. For commercial use, most brands have an answer but I would choose Alloc. After all, commercial laminate has been in their offerings from day one and some of their residential lines have commercial warranties. For cost conscious residential applications all brands have one in their line. We align ourselves in this area to Quick Step's "Steps 700" and "Classic 800" because the variety of colors and species look in those lines.

Scratch resistance, cleanabilty, and wear resistance are characteristics of just about all brands of laminate floors because of the nature of construction. We have sold millions of square feet of laminate flooring and the rate of product failure for those reasons have been miniscule. Failure from moisture is a different situation. Most laminates are susceptible, while some brands tout moisture resistant on some products but limit warranty on moisture. Laminate flooring in bathrooms is not a good idea.

These are strictly my opinions based on our sales and claims experience. I am sure there will wide and varied opinons depending on who you ask. Laminate floors in general is one of the best floors on the market and will give you years of service.

Asian Walnut Wood Flooring (Acacia)

Acacia Asian Walnut Wood Floors at great prices are now available at American Carpet Wholesalers.

Asian Walnut or Acacia is a very tough little tree common to the most arrid areas of Southeast Asia, India, Africa, and Austrailia. It is an enviromental friendly pod bearing tree with rich colors from golden to dark brown. Growing in such a harsh and hostile environment makes it 90% harder than oak and resists warping and cupping.

Many of our customers have asked about it, so we found the best value around and added it to our inventory. If you're looking for a floor with depth and vibrant color range, this is your floor.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Comments from Rug Rag

David from posted a comment about one of my posts. I welcome all comments and post them after reviewing for inappropriate content. I also reviewed David's site and highly recommend it for info about hand made oriental rugs. The site is quite informative about the care and cleaning of fine handmade rugs. They also offer an online appraisal service. We do not sell handmades on our site as we feel it is better left to the experts.

Check them out it is good information.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

......the best carpet...Part 2

Now that you know that I believe there is not a best carpet, only a best carpet for a particular application, let's explore the manufacturers. Is one better than the other? That depends on who you ask. Not too long ago we had hundreds of different manufacturers, but with industry consolidation over the last decade and a half, we now have only 3 or 4 major manufacturers owning 20-30 different brands collectively. Plus there are 15-20 independent reputable manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada. There are only a handful of companies that make the manufacturing equipment all these carpet mills use to produce their carpets. As well as just a handful of producers of the fibers used to make these carpets with some of the major manufacturers buying up these producers to better their market position.

So it really boils down to which carpet mills have the best quality control, is the most innovative in product development, and can keep the manufacturing cost down to produce a great value for the ever cost conscious consumer. Using my 35 years experience in the carpet and floor covering industry, Shaw Industries year after year has been the leader in producing cutting edge carpet styles while maintaining quality and cost controls that are second to no other carpet manufacturer. Shaw Carpet brands include such long established names as Cabin Crafts Carpet, Philadelphia Carpet, Queen Carpet, Sutton Carpet, Tuftex Carpet, and many commercial carpet mills.

My second favorite is Beaulieu of America. While green is in, Beaulieu has been producing enviro-friendly carpet for years. Just in the last 5 years I have seen their quality improve at a much faster pace than any other carpet manufacturer. Innovative styles and fibers have established Beaulieu Carpets as some of the finest in the world. In February of this year, Beaulieu intoduced their newest brand "Bliss by Beaulieu". This brand is not simply an acquisition, but a new launch geared to appeal to the female consumer. It will truly compliment their long existing brands such as Beaulieu Carpet, Coronet Carpet, Hollytex Carpet, and their many commercial carpet mills.

Dixie Home Carpets is coming of age with carpet lines geared to the core consumer as well as some upper end lines geared more toward designers. Of some of the major idependents, Kraus Carpet (a Canadian mill) is one of our favored suppliers. One of the California mills that has had great success is Royalty Carpet Mills and for specialty prints and florals, Milliken Carpet Mills cannot be beat. For carpet designed with kids in mind, it's Joy Carpets. There are several lesser known mills we deal with for value priced carpets Supreme Carpet, Cherokee Carpet, Southwind Carpet along with others.

There is my list of the best. If I have left any mill out, it was intentional. Next I will give my opinion on laminate floors and laminate brands.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What is the best ... Carpet..Laminate..Hardwood..Tile? Part 1 Carpet

What is the best carpet? .. the best laminate...the best hardwood? ...the best tile? The question is put to me or my staff almost on a daily basis. The answer is pretty much the same for all the different flooring options. My opinion is that there is no best. Only a best choice for a particular application. Carpet as well as all the other flooring available are offered for both residential and commercial applications.

Your budget plays a big part in what product you choose. A carpet, laminate floor, hardwood floor, or vinyl tile floor can be found to fit just about any budget that will offer years of serviceability. Design choices and color schemes are somewhat limited in the lower price points, but good matches for your lifestyle are available nevertheless.

No matter what price range you are considering for carpet, you should never compromise the quality of the underlayment (padding). A good padding will make even the least costly carpet perform to its maximum ability. Thicker is not better, whether it's carpet or padding! Face weight typically has no bearing on durability. It is the density factor that is most important. No carpet padding should be used over 1/2" thick and 7/16" is the desired thickness recommended but most all carpet manufacturers and the Carpet and Rug Institute. For loop pile carpets (berber loop and multi-purpose loops) 3/8" and less is recommended. Minimum density of recommended pads should be no less than 6lbs and 8lbs for loop pile.

Shag or thick saxony plushes are not good choices for high traffic areas such as hallways, stairs and family rooms. For these areas a low profile, high density carpet is advised with the good low profile high density carpet padding. For bedrooms these carpets work well. Some of the more expensive ultra shags are better suited for area rugs. Berber loop and low profile cut and loop hybrids work well for all areas of your home.

Commercial carpets are made for moderate to heavy traffic. Most are extremely low profile from 1/4" to 3/8" thick with high density factors. Loop piles are typically installed with adhesive to prevent movement underneath. While low profile cut piles are generally installed over a carpet padding with density factors of 8-14 lbs. These are general requirements for general commercial use. Carpets are usually specified for the type and amount of anticipated foot traffic. Carpet tiles are suited for just about all commercial use and are available in many different patterns and colorways.

You can get more detailed information by visiting the Carpet and Rug Institute.

Part 2 will cover laminate floors.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Carpet Tiles for Home or Office

We have had several questions about the carpet tiles we offer. Although most are commercial carpet in nature, they can be used residentially. Depending on the pattern you will get a look that is modern and is quite attractive, not to mention great wearability. Plus, they make for a great do it yourself project.

We offer carpet tiles in several different options. For larger jobs or continuity (you may need more at a later date), we offer DesignTek Modular Carpet Tiles, Shaw Philadelphia Carpet Tiles, Shaw Queen Carpet Tiles, and for day care, kids rooms, and schools we offer Joy Carpet Tiles (most available in broadloom as well).

For tremendous savings, we stock almost 500,000 square feet of 1st quality overruns in various colors and patterns in our "Carpet Tile Clearance Center". Savings on these carpet tiles can be anywhere from 50-80% of their original value. Availablility for these tiles are limited to inventory on hand, although from time to time we will have access to some of the same patterns.

Installation methods vary depending on application. Kathryn (in the above pics) is using tape dots. These are sticky on both sides and work better on smooth surfaces. They do not work very well on concrete. For commercial applications and for concrete, we (and most manufacturers) recommend a pressure sensitve adhesive. This type of adhesive is releasable in case you want to rotate the tiles from high traffic areas to prolong carpet life. You apply the adhesive the same way as the dots, make about a 3 to 4 inch diameter dot on each corner and 1 or 2 more dots in the center.

Overall, for durability and ease of intallation, carpet tiles cannot be beat.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Customer Feedback

Typically most of our customer reviews and feedback are posted on American Carpet Wholesaler's website. Here are a couple that were sent directly to customer service I would like to share:

To: LeAnda Seay

We needed 8 cartons of Quik-Step laminate flooring to finish a project we had started 3 years ago (finances and time delay). I found the exact match, and on sale at that, ordered 8 cartons and they arrived within 10 days. We had them delivered to my husbands workplace, which cut shipping. We were able to finish our project and still saved almost $200; without compromising product or quality. With the price of gas and the value of your time, this was ideal. I highly recommend shopping their products and giving them a try. We were thrilled with our results.

Dean & Ronda Rustad

To: LeAnda Seay
Subject: Thank You

Dear LeAnda,

I just wanted to let you know how please I am with the service of your company. The flooring arrived just as you predicted and the delivery guy was so nice and helpful. I have had the floor layed and it's absolutely beautiful, much prettier than I imaginaged. I'm sending you an attachment of what the floor looks like in my kitchen.

Thank you and the ones that helped with the shipping of the floor. I have already recommended you to my sister, which she will be ordering soon.

Thanks again,
Karen Young

I wish to thank Mr. and Mrs. Rustad and Karen Young for their kind words and LeAnda Seay for a job well done. Keep up the good work.

Quick Step Laminate and Congoleum DuraCeramic Tile are two of the products in which we maintain a huge inventory. Most orders can be shipped out the same day on these products.

Armstrong Raises Hardwood Prices

Press Release From Armstrong:

Lancaster, PA, July 1, 2008 – Armstrong has raised prices on select Armstrong and Bruce hardwood products, effective immediately. Increases in raw materials, transportation, and surging prices for oil and natural gas have necessitated this increase,” said Paul Murfin, vice president of sales

Source: Floor Daily

Products affected at American Carpet Wholesalers include the Bruce Hardwood Floor line and the Armstrong Hardwood line by Hartco.
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